Using the iPhone as a source of music on your VW Jetta SportsWagen with a Bluetooth connection

Now, being the person that I am, I love music and love listening to it wherever I can.  It makes sense then, that I put a lot of music on my phone.  My iPhone has the ability to connect through Bluetooth to my car and should have the ability to send the music to the speakers within the car.  Now, the issue is, how do I do that?  If you’re like me, you don’t read the instructions cause they’re long and boring.  I want the three bullet points to make it happen.  So here is how it works:

  1. Make sure your phone is connected to the car through Bluetooth.
  2. Start playing music on the phone’s music player
  3. On the radio select ‘BT Audio’
  4. Listen to the music through the car’s speakers

See, that was easy.  Why it took me two manuals for the car to figure this out is ridiculous.

Say hello to my new daily driver, 2011 Volkswagen Jetta SportWagen TDI

After changing jobs and working at a job that is much more stimulating to me I soon found out that my choice of daily driver was not exactly the best choice anymore.  As much as I loved the Porsche Cayenne Turbo and the fact is, it never caused me any issues unlike the M5.  The only issue with the Cayenne was the gas mileage; now I’ll admit I’m a bit of a lead food when it comes to driving, but I was spending way too much on gasoline each month for even my lead foot and wallet to handle.  Even adjusting to driving slower was not helping me.  So the choice came down to figuring out what I wanted to do.

I started out looking at hybrids, such as the Prius, Fusion Hybrid, Honda Civic Hybrid and the like and the Jetta TDIs.  After getting to ride in and drive the hybrids I marked them off the list pretty quickly since I did not find them very fun to drive.  The Jetta TDI sedan and wagon were both a lot of fun to drive – so that narrowed my choices down to choosing between a sedan or wagon and a manual or DSG transmission.  Now, this seems like an easy choice, but it is damn near impossible to find a Jetta TDI exactly how you want it.  So you basically have to go with what they’ve got at the dealerships.  Luckily, in Austin there are two VW dealerships; and one had sedans and the other had wagons.  Of course, the first thing to do was to find out how much the Cayenne was worth as a baseline for trade-ins at other dealerships using CarMax.  If the trade-in value is close, it’ll make up for the taxes saved on trade-in, if not, you know to sell the car to CarMax.  The baseline price I found out from CarMax on Wednesday, even though it took most of the night.

Now, dealership number one was right after CarMax.  They had two identically outfitted sedans (both with DSG); and I test drove one of them.  Immediately I knew this was a fun car to drive and I could more than likely live with driving one on a daily basis.  After the test drive, we started working numbers to see if something could happen.  Unfortunately, they couldn’t make it happen with the trade-in, they were 5k under CarMax’s offer, however, the deal was a very good deal.  It was past their closing time when it was concluded so I went home a little disappointed, but feeling pretty good about the decision to change cars.

The second dealership was the one with all the wagons at it.  They also had one sedan — in manual.  I test drove the manual sedan and wow.  That is a really, really fun car to drive.  The power band was quite nice and the transmission was one of the smoothest I’ve used.  However, I wanted the DSG, so I started looking through the wagons just to see what there was.  I found a red wagon with DSG and the panoramic roof and decided that would be a nice car, but I would still like to know if they could get me any sedan with DSG and the iPod connector.  This of course, was Thursday.  The salesman said he’d find out tomorrow (being today, what sedans he could get and let me know).  This of course, leads to today.  There were no sedans available, but I told him I’d be interested in the red wagon with DSG and the panoramic roof if it could have an iPod adapter installed.  After a few phone calls, I bought the car (basically over the phone negotiations, it was kind of odd).  I agreed to buy the car about 4pm and then set off to my house to get the last of the stuff out of my Cayenne Turbo and put the instruction manuals into it to be sold back to CarMax.

I was out of my house and at CarMax by 5:00pm and then heading toward the VW dealership after selling my car by 5:45p.  Then, I was out of VW with my new car at 7:45p.  This, cats and kittens, was a record for the Holloway family.  The first time a car has been bought at the dealership and we’re out of the dealership before midnight.  In fact, I did two car related things in under 3 hours.  This was seriously amazing.  And the car kicks ass as well — not as powerful as the Cayenne Turbo, but I’ll happily trade some of the power for the ridiculously upgraded miles per gallon.

New battery for the car

A few days ago I had decided to drive the 911 out to meet some friends at the wonderful German food place near my house.  So, I took the time to pull the cover off the car, give it a quick dust off, move my other car out from behind it, then hop in and then hopped in to start it.  Alas, as you can guess my the name of this post, it didn’t happen.

I figured what the heck, I only drive the car a little bit a year and I hadn’t driven it in over two months, so it’ll just need to be jump started and I can do that later.  I finally got around to later yesterday evening.  And, I tried jumping it, which was no good.  So I let it sit for a while with the other car running to see if it would charge up the battery enough to start it.  And that didn’t happen either.  So taking my a multimeter to it, I found out I only had a 9V reading across the terminals.  Yep, a dead battery.  Sucks to have to buy a new battery, but this time I’m being smart(er) and procuring a trickle charger as well.  That way I can hopefully prevent this from happening again anytime soon.

Parts, parts and more parts

As I’ve chronicled before, the 911 is becoming a race car and I’ve slowly been gathering up the safety equipment and other parts that it needs.  The latest haul is a combination of safety and comfort equipment: a fuel cell, cool shirt and associated goodies, and window nets.

The fuel cell is a FuelSafe 17 gallon “shoe-box” style fuel cell with a surge tank.  The cool shirt will help keep me cool while racing (and perhaps while driving around the street as well if I become crazy enough to ditch my A/C while I’m still driving it on the road).  And, finally, the window nets will keep me and my associated extremities inside the vehicle in case of a problem.. like a crash.

The biggest thing is to now start putting parts onto the car and selling parts I don’t need before buying anything else.  So, the install list is as follows:

  1. Headers
  2. Front Splitter
  3. Cool Shirt System
  4. Fuel Cell

With the installations I need to do, the headers, front splitter and cool shirt system I know I can attempt myself.  The fuel cell requires some welding (which I can’t do… yet) but I can at least gather the additional items needed for the fuel cell installation such as AN fittings and fuel hose to get it connected to the fuel pump and return lines.

When I get a free weekend I’m hoping to do the header install which will also necessitate an oil change because an oil line must be replaced in order for the headers to fit onto the car.  It’ll also require a torch to heat up the exhaust nuts so I can pull them off the studs without breaking them (or at least that is the hope).  I’ve been dousing the exhaust studs in Liquid Wrench and PB Blaster for the past few weeks so I hope that’ll be enough for me to at least start getting the exhaust system off of the vehicle.

Secondly, the front splitter requires me dropping the bottom air damn, which while not particularly hard (only 6 bolts) will have to be done outside (where it is currently hovering in the high 90s).  Once it is dropped, I’ll need to replace one nut and bolt on the air dam then I can start making the splitter out of the sheet of polycarbonate I have.  I’m going to design the splitter to go out at least three inches from the bottom of the air dam and also go back underneath the car to the underbody tray protecting the fuel pump.  With this I should be able to channel air better into the oil coolers since it won’t be able to escape underneath the car and will be forced through the coolers.  Also, it should at smooth out the air flow a little bit beneath the vehicle.

Finally, the last two things: the cool shirt and the windows nets.  I’m not going to install the window nets just yet since I’ve got to do some more modification to the interior of the vehicle.  However, the cool shirt system will require a little fabrication (that I can do) to hold the cooler someplace in the cockpit along with a little wiring since I’ve gotta power the dang thing as well.

And the fun part, selling all the parts that I’ve taken off the car.  Of course, I don’t want to do that until I’ve figured out which parts still work and which ones do not.  So, I really need a weekend or two to sort through everything, get it photographed and put the parts up for sale.

Passed Level 3 at The Driveway, can’t wait for Level 4 – Advanced Race Craft

Yesterday, I completed the last two sessions required before I could take the Level 3 Test at The Driveway.  After the two sessions, I took a break then took the test.  The test wasn’t the typical pen and paper type, it was, of course, one with lots of high speed driving around their Grand Prix course and being chased by another car.  And best of all, I got to do it in the rain.  But that was just the precursor as to what I really want to do: the Level 4: Advanced Race Craft course.  Taking the course will also allow me to obtain a NASA racing license so I can start competing in wheel-to-wheel racing.

The level four course teaches the basics of what to expect during a race and how to handle the situations.  I can’t really describe it much better than what they do on The Driveway’s website, so I’ll just repost it here.

  • Track walk and Identifying Passing Zones
  • Qualifying Strategies (it’s just the clock)
  • Pre-Grid procedures
  • 5-Minute, 3-Minute, 1-Minute Warning
  • Warm up lap procedures
  • Getting in position for start
  • From the Pole Procedures (pick side and pace)
  • Rolling Start procedures
  • Standing Start procedures
  • Race Starts and Turn 1
  • Aborted Race Starts
  • Setting up the pass
  • Drafting and Slip Streams
  • Taking the race line
  • Passing under braking
  • Looking for weaknesses in other cars
  • Using other cars to your advantage
  • Working with another car to increase position
  • Radio Communications
  • Preserving your race car
  • Psychology of Winning

I’ve read about the majority of these in the Drive to Win and Going Faster! books, however, nothing prepares you for the real deal out there on the track.  I think it’ll be great fun to go from learning how to move the pieces on the chess board to actually playing.

911 Weight Loss Continued – Removing the stereo

Well, the 911 finally has no stereo system (other than the roar of the flat 6 out back). I had removed the rear speakers when gutting the interior for the roll cage install and had just cut the wires to those speakers at the time. That was easy compared to how rough the removal of the cd player was.  The door speakers were a simple 4 screws a piece removal operation.

The faceplate surround of the cd player was wedged poorly around the cd player and took a fair amount of screwdriver usage to pry it away. After that, it should have easily been seen as to how remove the stereo from the dash. However, not the case. I had to reach underneath the dash and feel around to figure out how to remove it. I could feel some tabs protruding from the cage holding the cd player but I couldn’t pry the tabs away that were holding it to the dash.  I tried various screwdrivers, I even sat in the passenger’s seat upside down so I could see under the dash.  There just wasn’t enough room to do anything.

So I did the next best thing, start taking apart the cd player from the front.  Off went the face plate, then I was left with 6 small screws to remove, which didn’t want to go into the night easily.  At that point, I still couldn’t get to the tabs.  Now I had basically given up on saving the head unit and the removal became a lot easier.  I grabbed a nice large screw driver and began bending the metal case of the head unit so I could get to the tabs that needed to be pushed back into the cage so it could be removed.  After thoroughly ruining the head unit I got it out and tossed it on the ground.  I should have Office Space’d it, but I couldn’t find my gangster rap to play while I was doing it.. so I just tossed it in the garbage.

The object of my displeasure

I then cleaned up the loose wires tucking them around a U-bracket that was used to hold the head unit in place and when I fix the door panels I’ll pull out the speaker wires from the doors so all that’ll be left is the head unit connector plug.  I also did not pull out the power antenna that doesn’t work since I need to get an extended range antenna for the car for use with the radio.  When I get the antenna in, if I can get the antenna to fit in the power antenna hole in the fender, I’ll use the antenna wire to help feed the radio’s extended range antenna through the frunk and to the fender.  Also, the hole left by the stereo will soon house the controls for the A/C and perhaps a switch to turn the cool shirt apparatus on and off (when I break down and buy it).

Soon to be covered with aluminum and holding A/C controls

The next item on my list is to build a wind splitter for the front of my car to create some down force on the front of the car since as it gets to the higher speeds the front end becomes a bit too loose for my liking even with an aggressive front rake on the suspension.

EDIT: Added pictures and a line of text